Russell Crowe in the saddle for new Ned Kelly movie

Russell Crowe: cast in Ned Kelly film. Photo: Andrew Meares
Russell Crowe: cast in Ned Kelly film. Photo: Andrew Meares

RUSSELL Crowe is set to star in a new Ned Kelly movie, but there is no guarantee it will be filmed in the North East.

The involvement of the Oscar winner was revealed yesterday when the cast for the film version of True History of Kelly Gang was named.

English actor George MacKay will emulate Mick Jagger and Heath Ledger and play Kelly in the movie based on the Booker Prize-winning novel of Peter Carey.

Filming will start in Victoria in March, but a publicist could not say if the North East would provide the backdrop for the movie to be guided by Snowtown director Justin Kurzel .

Already Hepburn Shire near Ballarat has confirmed it has been helping Kelly Gang producers in scouting for locations around Clunes where Ledger’s film Ned Kelly was made in 2002.

Hepburn councillor Neil Newitt told Ballarat newspaper The Courier it was a “fabulous opportunity for the whole shire”.

But Wangaratta mayor Ken Clarke, whose territory covers Glenrowan where the gang made its last stand in 1880, said the movie should depict Kelly Country.

“We would certainly think that it can be filmed in the North East, with all the Kelly artefacts and the Kelly memorabilia,” Cr Clarke said.

“That’s where it should be filmed.

“We’ve got Kelly’s grave at Greta, we’ve got Glenrowan of course, well the inn’s not there, but everything took place at Glenrowan.”

Cr Clarke said he planned to contact Film Victoria, the government body assisting producers, to make the case for the movie being made in the North East. 

If the region is snubbed it will continue a theme which stretches back to the world’s first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang made in 1906.

Melbourne suburbs substituted for the North East countryside then.

When Jagger came to Australia in 1969 to embody Kelly he spent his time on a set at Braidwood in southern NSW between Canberra and Batemans Bay.

In addition to Crowe and MacKay, the latest Kelly picture cast includes Essie Davis, the lead in television’s Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, and Nicholas Hoult, who starred as the lad opposite Hugh Grant in the film About a Boy.  

Kurzel said he was aiming to deliver an unvarnished version of Kelly to the screen.

“His story is one of the great odysseys in history, and I feel excited to be bringing it to the screen with a fresh cinematic eye,” Kurzel said in a media release issued from Los Angeles to announce the cast.

“This is a really unique and modern cast, and I am so proud to be working with such a talented ensemble of new faces and celebrated actors."